What is an IoT dashboard?
An IoT dashboard is web-based software that allows you to control your ecosystem, get information from each device, and manage its operation. An IoT dashboard is basically an IoT control panel that can achieve many different goals for any business.
- Collect data from your devices. The primary goal of most IoT devices is to collect data. A dashboard allows you to review collected data both retrospectively and in real time.
- Enhance data. To make the most of your collected data, you can combine datasets to find correlations and program rule-based actions. Different locations can be subject to different external factors: temperature, pressure, speed, etc. Combine your data and analyze it as a whole to get the most accurate results.
- Monitor processes remotely. Real-time IoT devices monitoring feature helps you know where your IoT devices are and what data they’re gathering. For example, IoT in healthcare is often connected with remote patient monitoring. Doctors can use devices to monitor vitals in real time without having to visit a patient in person.
- Learn your customers’ behavior patterns. Based on behavior information, you can create personal offers or change the way you interact with a customer. For example, some insurance companies gather data from cars and offer insurance policies based on whether a customer is prone to speeding.
- Let your customers enjoy reporting. Through a dashboard, you can not only see data yourself but share it with your customers. This feature will bring additional value to your software, making it stand out.
As you can see, all of the goals a dashboard can help you achieve are connected with IoT device control and monitoring, data collection, management, and analysis. This requires a rather complex system. In this article, we’ll talk about how to set up such a system, discuss the necessary technology stack, and list the must-have features you need to consider to build IoT dashboard.
An IoT dashboard is basically an IoT control panel that can achieve many different goals for any business
Here’s a step-by-step guide to building a dashboard for your IoT application.
Step 1. Choose a network
The complexity of IoT networks requires a specific architecture that consists of:
- Data systems
These layers connect with each other through the following channels:
All these connections require a network to support them. The type of network you need will depend on your ecosystem, its scale, and your goals. These are the most common types of networks for IoT.
- A nanonetwork is your choice if you’re working with microchips and small sensors that gather and compute data, then send it to a database. Nanonetworks are used in military, agricultural, biometric, and other applications.
- NFC (near-field communication) is created for connecting devices that are close to each other (within four centimeters). NFC is commonly used for contactless payments and security cards.
- A BAN (body area network) is used in smart clothing or sensors that are embedded under the skin.
- A PAN (personal area network) works within one or two rooms.
- A LAN (local area network) connects devices within one building.
- A CAN (corporate area network) unites devices within a specified area like a hospital, university, or plant.
- A MAN (metropolitan area network) is associated with smart cities and can cover either one small city or a separate area in a city.
- A WAN (wide area network) covers more than one city and can unite MANs and LANs.
Step 2. Choose a protocol
The protocols connect devices to each other and to the applications to which they send data.
MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) is the most common protocol that allows for the transmission of data from devices to applications and middleware through three components: subscribers, publishers, and brokers. A subscriber receives data from the publisher that collects it. MQTT is suitable for small, low-power, and simple devices.
DDS (Data Distribution Services) are great for more complex IoT monitoring systems, as they enable real-time communication between members of your ecosystem. They’re also suitable for cloud computing.
AMQP (Advanced Message Queuing Protocol) is a protocol for exchanging messages between middleware and an application.
Bluetooth is a well-known technology present in most consumer IoT devices, from smartphones to smart clothing and speakers. Bluetooth provides effective communication between devices within a short range.
Choose between a platform and a dashboard
The terms platform and dashboard in IoT are often used interchangeably. In this article, I’ll refer to third-party IoT services as platforms and to custom-made administrative software as a dashboard.
A dashboard is often viewed as the most basic software for managing IoT devices and receiving data from them. Platforms are often more advanced, allowing you to run tests, store data, deploy updates, and so on.
Both a platform and a dashboard can be advanced (with a lot of capabilities) or really simple (allowing you only to view data and manage it at a basic level)
However, when it comes to third-party platforms, they often contain only an IoT analytics dashboard: an administrative center where you can see all the information from your devices and manage them.
So both a platform and a dashboard can be advanced (with a lot of capabilities) or really simple (allowing you only to view data and manage it at a basic level). The only difference in this case is whether you choose to develop your own dashboard or build your service on a third-party platform. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each option so you can choose the best IoT dashboard for your solution.
Custom IoT dashboard
A custom web IoT dashboard is web-based software that you build from scratch and power with the technologies that are best for your IoT service. The main downside of a custom dashboard is its cost. Building a dashboard requires a development process that is separate from what other development process, and the more features you want, the more complex the development will be.
With a custom IoT dashboard app you can always be sure that your IoT devices will be compatible with your whole system
Building a dashboard from scratch will require strong skills from your web developer, as they’ll need to select proper technologies, design the architecture, and pair your devices with the backend and the dashboard.
However, with a custom IoT dashboard app you can always be sure that your IoT devices will be compatible with your whole system. You’ll be able to implement features specific to your business and customize the dashboard according to your needs. This will make your operations more effective and save you money in the long run.
- Custom features
- Your own servers
- Independence from another business’s policies and pricing
- Data safety
- Can change functionality on demand
- Significant investment, especially at the start
- Need a software support team
Off-the-shelf IoT platform
You’ll probably pay a monthly or yearly fee for a ready IoT platform. These platforms are convenient, as you don’t have to wait for software to be developed. However, you’ll be fully dependent on how other developers have created this software.
Usually, off-the-shelf platforms aren’t very customizable. It will be hard or impossible to change anything feature-wise. Also, you’ll need to pay each month or year, and in the long run this may cost you more than if you created your own dashboard in the first place.
If you choose a ready solution, be sure to choose wisely. Transitioning to another platform will require much time and money.
- Instant access
- Many advanced features (depending on the platform)
- Constant support
- Risk of data leaks
- Lack of control over features and connections
- Constant payments
- Low scalability and customizability
If you choose a ready solution, be sure to choose wisely. Transitioning to another platform will require much time and money
No matter which platform you choose, you’ll need your own set of components for your dashboard. I’ve prepared a list of the most popular and common IoT dashboard components. You can implement all of them or choose just the basic set of components depending on your technical and business needs.
Must-have IoT dashboard components
Telemetry data collection
Data collection is one of the primary goals of any IoT device. Your backend is what helps you store and view information in the form of reports. Telemetry data includes:
- GPS coordinates
- Air and water quality
- Chemical composition
After your sensors get all this data and transfer it to your database, you need to visualize it. There are some IoT monitoring open source solutions that can allow you to do that easily.
Note, that an industrial IoT dashboard might need more customization, and it may be hard to find a ready solution.
Humans typically have visual perception, so a dashboard should visualize information from IoT devices. There are lots of ways to do that:
- Line graphs
- Geographical maps
- Bar charts
- Pie charts
- Heat maps
Use these visualization methods to represent your data in the best way possible. To make your service outstanding, share some of this information with your users in an equally clear way after you create IoT dashboard for your own needs.
Real-time data processing
For most IoT-based products (for example, in healthcare and smart car applications), it’s vital to get data in real time. For this, data should be sent and received dynamically. This requires several things:
- Dynamic database
- Stable connection
- Advanced development skills and lots of resources
IoT devices are usually lightweight, so they don’t have much storage capacity. All the data they gather they almost immediately send to the server. And though these data points may appear to be collected slowly, over time there will be so many of them that you’ll need sufficient storage to keep them all.
Your database should be able to quickly retrieve all data so you can see changes according to timestamps
Moreover, your database should be able to quickly retrieve all data so you can see changes according to timestamps. A timestamp shows when a piece of data was created. This parameter is attributed to data either by a device or by backend software. Later, when you need information from a certain timeframe, your software can retrieve it according to the timestamps.
You can automate most processes with the help of IoT devices. When an IoT device detects a change with its sensor, it can send data to the server and initiate changes in the way your machines work. For example, if a device detects a critical change in pressure, it can trigger certain actions in the machine to relieve that pressure.
Rule logic is what makes your system smart and self-managing.
This feature is connected with rule logic: if a sensor detects some sort of behavior, hazard, or drastic deviation from the usual measurements, it can set off an alarm and warn you. You can set rules for alarms and manage them according to your business needs.
To make IoT technology more effective for your business, you should not only get data from all your IoT devices but quickly derive valuable insights from it. Instead of looking at endless lists of data points, let the system provide you with conclusions so you can take action faster.
Basic IoT analytics will show you minimum, maximum, and average data readings. More advanced analytics will allow you to learn about trends, predict failures and risks, etc.
You can manage your devices through a dashboard: roll out updates, turn devices on or off, change modes, and so on. You can also send requests and commands to your devices and monitor their work and performance.
If your system’s main goal is to manage your assets, a dashboard is the primary place where you’ll be able to do that. With a dashboard, you can register and manage your assets and see where exactly they are. You can also group your assets, categorize them, and so on.
Technology stack for an IoT platform
Currently there are many solutions and technologies for building IoT apps. You can choose to integrate your IoT devices with platforms from IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, etc. Here are technologies you can use:
|Company||Technologies and platforms|
|Google Cloud + IoT Core|
|Microsoft||Microsoft Azure + Power BI|
|IBM||IBM Cloud + Watson IoT platform|
|Amazon||AWS + AWS IoT Platform|
An IoT dashboard is a necessary part of your IoT software. It allows you to gather, analyze, and visualize information that’s vital for your customers and your business. An IoT dashboard can be very basic, only displaying and visualizing your data. This option is great for simple services or MVPs.
A more complex dashboard will allow you to manage your devices, deliver updates to them, get valuable insights from your data, and more.
If you plan to develop a simple IoT service, you can choose an off-the-shelf IoT platform that will instantly provide you access to all its functionality. However, if you plan to scale your business and require more customization, it’s best to develop your own dashboard.
At Mobindustry, we work with IoT devices and build reliable dashboards with business goals in mind. Contact us if you have any questions about the technical stack for or business applications of an IoT dashboard.
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